“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15
With Passover and Easter approaching, how appropriate to screen and study the epic story of Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings. This sumptuous film is rooted in the biblical book of Exodus, which recounts the central events in Old Testament redemptive history: how God fulfilled his promises to his people. The annual celebrations of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are times of remembering God’s faithfulness, how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land. Jesus was observing Passover when he blessed the bread and the wine for his disciples at the Last Supper. Only in retrospect, did Jesus’ followers come to understand the significance of sacrificial blood and the breaking of bread.
This study guide prepared especially for Exodus: Gods and Kings identifies enduring passages from the Bible to enlighten key scenes from the movie. Each section includes a Bible verse, a selection from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, a clip from the film, and discussion questions to consider. It is appropriate for small group bible studies, for sermon starters and for individual devotions. In studying the life of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, we find inspiring parallels to the life of Christ. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses foresees the Lord raising up a prophet from amongst the Israelites. In looking back at Moses, we catch a foretaste of the transformative power of Jesus’ life to come.
1. SAVE THE CHILDREN
“Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’” Exodus 1:22
READ: Exodus 1:8—2:10
Moses and Jesus were both born under the threat of death. The Hebrews’ sons were sentenced to death under two oppressive regimes, the Egyptians and the Romans. Moses and Jesus’ background as threatened outsiders influenced their subsequent leadership in significant ways.
The Egyptian Pharaoh was constantly monitoring the number of Hebrews serving as slaves, building cities like Pithom and Rameses. If the Israelites became too numerous, then conceivably they could lead or join a rebellion against the Egyptians. So, his death sentence for Jewish children was designed to keep things under control.
Moses was born into this oppressive and threatening environment. Only resourceful actions by his mother and a fortuitous discovery by Pharaoh’s daughter saved the baby Moses’ life. He was subsequently raised amidst affluence in Pharaoh’s house. In the movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Jewish elders led by Nun (played by Ben Kingsley) offer Moses some much-needed historical background: Moses is the son of a slave. Such shocking news may not be readily embraced.
Moses understandably bristles at this surprising news. It is tough to embrace roots that seem far removed from our experience. Yet, Jesus also shared Moses’ fugitive status. He was born at a time when Herod, the Roman governor in Israel, tried to eradicate any threats to his power.
READ: Matthew 2:1-18
With the arrival of a baby, who could undermine his power, Herod takes out his anger upon all the Israelites. He orders the slaughter of innocents, sending a wave of grief and mourning across the mothers of Israel, like “Rachel, weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18). Thankfully, an angel of the Lord appeared to Jesus’ father, Joseph, in a dream. He responds to God’s prompting to get up and escape to Egypt with Jesus and his mother, Mary. They live in exile until the threat of death from Herod subsides.
Moses and Jesus both understand what it is like to be threatened, to be oppressed, to live in fear. They will become remarkable liberators of subjugated people.
DISCUSS: When have you felt like an outsider under threat? What kind of special solidarity does God have with the innocent, the helpless, the enslaved?
2. A MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE
“And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’” Exodus 3:12
READ: Exodus 3:1-14
Moses and Jesus both met God atop a mountain. Scaling heights prepared the way for profound spiritual breakthroughs. There was certainly risk involved for Moses, leaving his comfortable life in Egypt behind. In the high desert of Midian, Moses starts a new life as a shepherd with his wife, Zipporah and her extended family. Together, they raise a son, Gershom, whose name means, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” Moses feels a calling towards the mountain chronicled in scenes from Exodus: Gods and Kings. He discusses it with his son and his wife.